Service Central driver Shane Gray sees Charlotte as springboard for strong finish
DENVER, NC – Pro Stock driver Shane Gray has turned the page on the events of the recent past, and with the weight of a regular season marked by hurdles and heavy obstacles behind him, the commander of the Service Central Racing Chevy Camaro will return to his home racetrack for the 5th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals with a fresh look for his racecar and a revived drive to finish strong.
Gray, of nearby Denver, N.C., will arrive at Charlotte's zMax Dragway with his Chevrolet dressed to impress in the recognizable Tire Kingdom scheme. The second-generation drag racer – his father is Funny Car pilot Johnny Gray – is sitting just outside of the top 10 in the Full Throttle Series points and won't be chasing the championship title in his freshly wrapped ride, but he will most certainly be aspiring to achieve results.
"Of course we were disappointed when we didn't make the field in Indy last week, but we started making that bed several races before that, and sometimes – you know how that goes – you have to lie in the bed that you made," said Gray, a two-time national event winner on the series tour. "We uncovered some big problems after we got back to the shop – it was a day late and a dollar short, and it will take us a while to get the problems really ironed out, but we aren't going to hang our heads.
"It sure stinks that we're not in the Countdown, but this is the perfect opportunity for us to get everything tested and ready for next year. If we can win some rounds with our Service Central Camaro and some races along the way, we'll be real happy. We're aiming to start down that new path this weekend."
For the third-year team, the comfort of home is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from illustrious zMax Dragway, a fine facility known in the world of drag racing as the Bellagio of Dragstrips. Gray and his motivated Gray Motorsports crew will have the advantage of returning to their respective homes each night of the event to rest and recuperate.
"Oh, that's a good thing," said Gray, who races with the support of wife Amber and their three sons. "This is going to be a great weekend. The way I see it, all of the pressure is off for us. We're going out there to have fun for these next six races, and maybe we'll play spoiler, but what we really intend to do is get into a heavy testing mode. We've made some changes that we feel will make a big difference in the long run, and we have a fresh outlook for the last part of the season.
"We're already building parts and planning next year. We're going in a totally different direction, and we expect that we'll be looking at a much different situation at this point next season."